Running isn't fun. But running makes my life better. It burns off anxiety and exhausts the brain hamsters so the self-criticism hammering my skull is replaced by soft snores. I sleep through the night and vegetables suddenly sound like a good idea. My brain is calmer, my day goes better. But knowing all this still isn't enough to blast through my inertia. I need goals, I need training plans, I need the threat of a looming race in order to lace on my running shoes in the morning. I won't roll out of bed on a Sunday morning to run nine miles because "it will make me feel good" but I will roll out of bed because trying to run a marathon without training might kill me.
A few months ago, I ran my first half marathon. My mom and brother met me at the finish line and, in a terrifying example of role reversal, my brother waved a mug of coffee from a lawn chair on a grassy knoll while my mom ran to meet me at the finish line. To be clear, my brother is a strapping 32-year-old former firefighter who runs marathons of his own and my mother is a 67-year-old woman with a habit of landing in the hospital after jogging to answer the phone. They did not divvy up the running/coffee drinking duties appropriately.
Mom's ill-advised hustle to meet me at the finish line happened because I ran a faster race than I anticipated. Because I am militant about adhering to training schedules. If I was this militant in every area of my life, I would be kicking unbelievable amounts of ass.
When things don't go well in other areas of my life, I am highly prone to giving up. But when my runs don't go well, I keep trudging. During my long run this weekend, my headphones kept popping out of my ears, my water bottle was misbehaving, my clothes kept shifting, and I had to stop and walk every mile and a half. But I finished. And I know that as long as I keep finishing, no matter how poorly the run in question has gone, I will be able to run a marathon in March.
My goal is do everything the way I do running. To not give up just because it gets hard. To not give up just because I have feelings about something. To realize that even if I'm not enjoying something in the moment, my life will be better because I finish. No more switching goals every two weeks, no more abruptly changing course. No more deciding it's not worth it and boarding a bus instead. Or sitting on the sidewalk for two hours poking at piles of dirt with a stick until I forget why I was outside in the first place.
One foot in front of the other on the path you set for yourself will take you where you want to go. Always.